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Survey delves into mobile clothes shopping

By Retail Technology | Tuesday February 25 2014

Survey aiming to give vital human context to transactional studies finds too transactional a mobile focus risks ignoring the basic needs of the shopping majority

The vast majority (97%) of online clothes shoppers – even those using ‘mobile’ devices – do their shopping from home or work, not while out-and-about, and just 1% of them use instore Wi-Fi to buy, according to a new survey. 

Although about 30% of apparel transactions are now made from mobile devices, just 15% of people used a mobile device for their last purchase, suggesting that mobile shoppers are simply a very active buying group. Just three of 1,027 online respondents made their last purchase over a mobile phone network.

Rather than 18-24 year olds, it emerged that 35-44 year olds were the most likely to use a tablet, and 25-34 year olds were most likely to use a smartphone. Mobile device use for clothes shopping diminished dramatically for shoppers over 45.

Mobile clothing shopping habits

Commissioned by online virtual fitting technology provider, the survey aims to give a human context to those transactional data studies, which clearly indicate significant growth in transactions and store visits involving mobile devices. The survey quizzed shoppers who describe themselves as at least occasional purchasers of clothing online. A comprehensive report, How Fits is Online Fashionon the results will be made available.

Heikki Haldre, co-founder and chief executive of, said: “This survey gives the transactional statistics published in other reports some much-needed context about the shoppers that are driving those figures. 

“For example: yes, 30% of apparel retail transactions now come from a mobile device and, yes, study after study emphasises the growth rate of mobile transactions and, yes, study after study describes growth in instore purchases. But a massive majority of people, 85%, didn’t even use a mobile device for their last purchase and that number is even higher for older age groups.

“While companies make most of their revenue from a minority of their customers, I’m sure retailers will want to look at the needs and expectations of all their customers to ensure the continued growth and success of their online channel,” he added.

Other findings from the study show that, for 31% of shoppers, the prospect of finding the best price is still the primary factor driving people to shop online. For all its popularity and success, the ability to ‘click & collect’ was not a driver for online apparel shopping, polling only 6% in the survey. 

Evidence of buying multiple sizes 

Almost 31% of respondents admit to buying multiple sizes at least once to guarantee themselves a size that fits. Women are 50% more likely to have done so than men, but tend to buy two sizes when they do. 

And the reaction of a shopper receiving a garment that doesn’t fit them is no longer as damaging to the retailer as it once was. Among 18-24 year olds, 10% resolve not to buy online from that retailer again and a further 5% resolve to not buy from that retailer again at all, online or offline.

Among shoppers that have ordered multiple sizes, 57% did not give the consequences a second thought. Some 16% admitted feeling guilty that they were knowingly costing retailers money, but only 12% feel guilt over any potential environmental impact of multiple deliveries and collections. Environmental guilt was highest among 18-24 year olds, at 17%.

Despite the more obvious difficulties for women in buying clothes that fit, men emerged as almost as frustrated as women (42% and 48% respectively) about the inability to try clothes on when buying online. A further 32% cited the inability to determine garment quality. Texture scored 10% of the ‘biggest disappointment’ vote, followed by lack of confidence in the colour at 5%.

Majority browse and buy from home

The majority (92%) of respondents said that their most recent online clothes purchase was made from the comfort of their own home. Only 5% said their most recent purchase was made from work.

And just five of the 1,027 respondents said their last purchase was made from ‘other Wi-Fi,’ i.e. somewhere other than home, work, or instore, suggesting coffee shops are not locations from which people do their online clothes shopping.

“Irrespective of device or shopping location, consumers clearly want the same experience online that they are used to in-store. Resolving these obstacles must be a priority for retailers, or they risk simply changing the device on which their shopper is disappointed,” added Haldre.

“There are also a lot of people that still don’t buy online; resolving these obstacles may also tempt them to experience the pleasure and convenience of online clothes shopping.”

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